Archive for February 2008
I am not sure if this video was meant to be, but is, a very clever way to illustrate exactly how many of us in wheelchairs often feel when kids run away when they see the chair coming (most don’t, most ask really good questions) or, more often, when a parents grabs their kid by the arm and yanks them away, like they think I am going to just plow right into the kid. Or they think it will cause a scene if there kid speaks to me, and by God, offends me.
I mentioned in a previous post that I don’t really feel discriminated against as a disabled man, but I’ll go on record here and say that this really can be offensive when parents do this, for two reasons. First, I am perfectly well under control of my wheelchair, and second…
Note To Parents: It’s Okay If Your Child Asks Me A Question About Being In A Wheelchair. Kids Are Curious. It’s Natural. It’s Healthy!
PS: Your Kids Are Smarter Than You Think They Are!
People in wheelchairs are being used by “insurgents” to carry bombs to blow up their enemies in Baghdad. Apparently this is the third such wheelchair attack in the area this month. No word as to whether they were willing participants, or whether they were truly disabled, for that matter.
But a terrorist is a terrorist and this just proves once again that they are always going to find ways to commit their dreadful acts as long as there is hatred, and as long as they see reason to do so. And THAT, my friends, is why TALKING with our enemies may actually work better than bombing to try to kill bombers. It’s not as ignorant or naive as the Clinton campaign may make it out to be. Will it work with guerrilla warlords? Who knows, but I am getting tired of hearing about so many people being blown up.
I just want to take a moment to mark the passing of William F. Buckley, one of the most influencial and prolific journalists of our time. We bloggers are heavily in debt to Buckley’s fast-paced style of writing and publishing. Buckley was an editor, columnist, novelist, debater, TV talk show host, and he found the magazine “National Review” while producing over 50 books. He was a man who got things done!
He was decidedly right-wing, eventhough he came to fame during a period in U.S. history that grew more and more liberal every day. He once defended Joseph McCarthy when it was an extremely unpopular thing to do. But remember, friends, that without someone standing up and opposing the overwhelming majority, free speech does not work.
I hate the war our country is undertaking in Iraq, and I wish it didn’t have to be, and I hope that with a new administration, we will find a sensible solution to bring this sad chapter to a close. But I find some consolation in this story, even if it does appear on the Operation Iraqi Freedom website, which may suggest to some that it is just a chunk of pro-war propoganda. But these soldiers are real people, and it can’t get more real for the people to whom they are bringing these wheelchairs. As small a gesture as it may seem, certainly it meant the world to its beneficiaries.
I’ve heard people (who REALLY hate the war) say that any humanitarian effort toward the people whose lives the war has destroyed is too little too late, but really, what else can they do but try to make things better?
When I was growing up, if I wanted to be an athlete, being in a wheelchair, all there really was available to me was basketball or racing. I tried both. I was no good at racing and didn’t enjoy it that much anyway (Sour grapes, anyone?) I thought I was a great basketball player.
But then, when I was 14, I went to a wheelchair sports camp for the first time. There, I was exposed to a multitude of other sports, and got a much needed boost in confidence. But I was only interested in basketball. But I found out that though I may have been a decent shooter, it took a lot more than that. And as it turns out, I was more interested in writing about sports than in putting any real effort into becoming “Michael Jordan in a wheelchair”. In the past ten years, wheelchair sports has branched out. We’ve got Aaron Fotherington doing backflips in his chair on a skateboarding half-pipe, for one thing.
But here is another taste of what the future may hold for the wheelchair athlete. It says “not at a competitive level..yet” but I’d say she is doing an excellent job of defending herself, and she gets a few shots of her own in, against her able-bodied foe. The woman goes a little easy on her, allowing her to turn and brace herself again, but…oh just watch it!
PS: This need not be a competitive venture. The boxer in the wheelchair in this clip, Beth, has a blog which can be accessed here. In this posting, she describes how she got in the ring as a workout activity, not a contact sport.
Last night, I watched the Oscars with my wife. Though there were some good movies nominated, I saw Hillary Swank at one point during the show and it reminded me of 2004, when her film “Million-Dollar Baby” won best picture. I saw that one in the theatre with my wife, and though I don’t really remember my full reaction, I do remember hating the ending.
Let me give you a little background, or skip this paragraph if you’ve seen it. It is about a boxer (Swank) who takes the female ranks by storm, earning a title match. During that match, she is viciously attacked and sustains a broken neck, and is paralyzed from the neck down. The rest of the movie involves her struggle to come to terms with the fact that she is no longer a fully-functional physical being, even though she had made her living with physical activity. When her family comes to take control of her fortune, she realizes that this is the only reason they showed up, so she decides that she has nothing to live for and asks her trainer and close confident (Clint Eastwood) to “end her suffering.” He struggles with this but does fulfill her wish by administering a lethal overdose.
This is very long-story-short, but the film raised a lot of eyebrows in the disabled community in ’04. When we went to see it, I honestly had no idea that this character was going to become disabled. I don’t remember anything about that in the previews. Its often said the movie was marketed as a “Rocky in a sports bra” but with a political agenda.
I am disabled, but I always have been. And as I said in an earlier posting, I can’t begin to imagine what it would feel like to lose those capabilities while you are at your physical peak of youth. And I have heard people say “If I ever became disabled, I’d kill myself.” But I have always had a hard time believing that, if it actually happened, they would still feel the same and kill themselves. I am sure it would cross anyone’s mind, in the situation Swank’s character was in, but Swank’s character seemed optomistic and driven during her boxing days. And it seemed as though she was being shown ways she could make the very best out of the cards she’d been dealt, just before “the end.”
So, first, while admitting that I have not experienced what Swank’s character did, I don’t think this movie reflects reality. I have a friend who was an athlete and stage actress, and a very social person until she was paralyzed from the neck down when she was 16. Since then, she has always been very positive, and she took the “social” part of herself and used it to make the world a better, more hopeful place for people in her situation, by going on a speaking tour about her experience.
Second, does this movie, and the death wish of Swank’s character suggest a low value on life itself? Her limbs didn’t work, and I understand that this would deny a person the freedom they’d enjoyed all their life, but she could still dream, and share her dreams and work with people to make them a reality. She could teach people based on her experiences. And she could still love and be loved (her trainer loved her like a daughter).
In short, I hated this movie.
Just kidding, it presents an argument from one point of view. It’s not mine, but I can appreciate its merits. As a disabled person, though, I hate to see anyone thinking that the loss of limbs is the loss of life, and I don’t like the movie for depicting that attitude so bleakly.
For the six or seven people in this world who have never seen “Lost”, I did not watch it on Thursday like I said I would. I did watch an early episode, and one from a couple of weeks ago, online, and it was just what I suspected, as far as I can see. John Locke is no longer disabled while on the island because this is a place where either everybody’s dreams come true or their problem is fixed. Apparently there is another character who had cancer before the crash. I am sure there is more to it than that, but I did not investigate further on Friday as I was too busy watching Vickie Guerrero on WWE Smackdown! playing the crippled villain character, which, though I enjoy badmouthing her every chance I get, I personally find her more appealing than the “He was disabled but now look what he can do now that his body’s been miraculously fixed!” storyline. It’s about time! I say put John Locke back in a wheelchair and put him back to work.